Mini-Cupcake Tree

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 40 min
  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Inactive: 25 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 48 mini-cupcakes, 1 tree
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1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Zest half a lemon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Decoration options:

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted


  1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 4 (12-cup) mini-muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. Whisk the flour with the granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Lightly whisk in the melted butter, egg, milk, vanilla, and zest, just until smooth. Divide the batter among the 48 liners, filling about 1/2 way. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pan, flip upright, and cool completely on the rack.
  3. For the frosting: With a handheld or standing mixer, beat the cream cheese with the butter at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice. Chill for 10 to 20 minutes while assembling the tree.
  4. To make the tree: Begin with 1 Styrofoam cone, 18-inches tall by 3 3/4-inches in diameter at the base. Trim about 2-inches from the top of the cone and 4-inches from the bottom and discard. Wrap the cone in foil, leaving about 2-inches of extra foil on the top to fold over, making a more rounded top. Begin inserting toothpicks at the top and skewer a cupcake onto each one. Position as close to each other as possible while working your way around and down.
  5. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Begin on the outside edge and make a spiral motion towards the center of each cupcake.
  6. When ready to serve, dust the tree with confectioners' sugar. Set on a large platter and place toasted coconut around the base for dipping.